50 years later<BR>Korean War veterans return to site of bloody confrontation<BR>
Joe Sullivan of Chino Valley stands in front of a statue celebrating the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought in the Korean War.
Chino Valley resident and Korean War veteran Joe Sullivan was born in Boston, Mass., and joined the U.S. Army in 1949. He was one of the many thousands of American soldiers who fought in the Korean War.
"I was in the Ch'ongch'on battle, which was one of the biggest battles fought," recalls Joe. "This battle brought us up to the stalemate which caused the war to last another year and a half," he said.
Joe was one of 400 U.S. soldiers the Federation of Korean Industries hosted in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the armistice. He, accompanied by his son, Bill, made the trip to Korea last month and spent six days there.
'There were 21 nations represented, with no charge to any nation, as the federation paid for all of it," Joe confirmed.
During his six days in Korea, he said that he and the other soldiers in attendance stayed in a five-star hotel and were feted with several banquets, gifts and wonderful meals.
"They were so great to us," he said. "The people in Korea are so grateful for what we did. People on the streets would wave and even bow to us as our caravans went by," he added, beaming.
Joe was very impressed by the war memorial and war museum the Koreans have built to honor our soldiers.
The museum features a large hall, on both sides of which are bronze plaques – one for each of our states – and the names of the 33,000 American soldiers who gave their lives are listed under the state they were from.
"When we got to the end of the hall, it was real hard for me to take, seeing all these 60- and 70-year-old ex-soldiers with tearful eyes, because it flashes you back to the period," Joe said.
Joe took with him to Korea an old photo that had been taken of his division back in 1951 on Thanksgiving Day, and he actually found a person at the celebration who was in the photo.
"All 400 of us who went to Korea were amazed at what has been done in the country in the last 50 years. Their airport is larger than LAX," he said, and "they have new big subways" and underground shopping centers.
"It makes you feel good to know the sacrifices we made weren't in vain," he said. "I'm happy that what we did for the people of Korea is so very profitable today. Like the president of Korea, Roh-Moo-hyun, said to us, 'all that you see is less than 50 years old, but it is here because of you.'"